Autumn has arrived and a sense of panic marred my gardening today. With evening gardening over due to the shortening days and a wet day yesterday, I felt an unexpected sense of urgency in the garden today. To such an extent that I found myself not enjoying myself at all but this may be tangled up with the pervasive feeling of unhappiness I am experiencing currently – which I know is hardly surprising and I need to be kind to myself.
With cooler temperatures forecast the tender plants were the priority. I am in a bit of a quandary at the moment since I am using the greenhouse for my alpine bulbs which presumably means that this space won’t be very helpful for overwintering the tender perennials. I intend to keep the greenhouse just frost-free, or even cold, and the door will be open on warmer and sunnier days and I suspect this won’t be good for the succulents and pelargoniums. There is part of me which thinks “give it a go and see what happens”. I’m not emotionally attached to any of the plants so if I lose them I won’t be heartbroken but then my sensible and risk averse head kicks in and I wonder how to accommodate the diverse range of plants I have accumulated in recent years. The solution, at the moment, is that I have tided up my work space in the garage and all the pelargoniums are now stored in there by the window where they will get lots of light. The tender succulents are currently in the greenhouse whilst I come up with a better solution. I only ever keep the greenhouse frost-free and they have always been fine so I wonder if I corral them in one area and give them some extra
protection with fleece whether that will be sufficient. The rest of the borderline plants in pots have been collected on to the patio so they can be quickly put under cover if a frost is forecast. There are still some planted out but again I am thinking of risking them to see what happens. Bob Brown told me the other week that he thought if you planted them deep enough and mulched plants you didn’t expect to survive do. I have also heard John Massey say the same so I might give it a go.
As I collected the pots up I was deeply conscious of the fallen leaves which weren’t present last week and how much I still wanted to achieve in the garden to prepare it for Spring and finish off projects before Winter commences. Then in the next breath I experience a strong feeling of just needing to give up and ignore it all. There are areas of the garden where I still feel very strongly that the planting could be better. I spent some time talking to my sons about my loss of confidence in my horticultural abilities, how the borders don’t replicate the images in my head and our conclusion was that writing about the garden on this blog may be partly to blame. I have always shared my plans and thoughts about the borders and in the last few years on a weekly basis, much as I have done today. I have always tried to treat the blog as a record for myself but at the moment, in my heightened emotional state, I am feeling quite vulnerable and sensitive so it may be that the garden won’t appear here for a while until I am feeling a bit more positive and confident.
I have a bit of a thing about bulbs. I just love them. I love the fact that you plant a small dry bulb and within 6 months you can have a stunningly beautiful plant. I love the anticipation of waiting for the first shoot to push through the soil. I love the ephemeral nature of the flowers and I love the variety from the tiny crocus and snowdrops to the large giant lily (Cardiocrinum giganteum). So it’s hardly surprising that due to my recent dabbling in the vast and intriguing world of alpines that I have been expanding my bulb collection. Added to this I have this year joined the Pacific Bulb Society so, as a friend said to me yesterday, all hope is lost.
For those who haven’t come across the PBS they generally produce a list of available seeds and bulbs one a month which you can apply to so recently small packages have been plopping through the letter box from California containing all sorts of delights. These have been duly potted up in terracotta pots and added to the bulb collection in the greenhouse. Coming home from a weekend away the other day I was beside myself to discover Oxalis perdicaria ‘Citrino’ in flower. Only a few leaves were present before I went away so to discover these dainty pale yellow flowers was a delight. Oxalis perdicaria ‘Citrino’ is a bit of a rogue Oxalis. It sends up leaves in spring but no flowers, then it dies back, only to reappear at this time of year with flowers. The flowers only open when the light is good and apparently have a honey scent but I am yet to detect this. I am becoming intrigued by Oxalis having been bewitched by Oxalis veriscolor when I visited the Alpine House at RHS Wisley back in February.
If you look carefully you can see that the flowers have a red and white twist of colouring. When the flower bud is tight shut it is red and the petals are wrapped a bit like an umbrella would be. Then the flower opens out and it is white inside. The Oxalis perdicaria ‘Citrino’ does the same except the flower is the same colour inside and out but when you look very closely at the buds you can see the same twisting of the petals. I think they are beautiful and intriguing
So now you know why I get excited about bulbs and yes my friend is right – there is no hope for me
September has been a very dry month and has ended with exceptionally warm temperature. a real Indian summer. Although the garden is dry at first glance luckily because we have had the odd day of rain and there is frequently a heavy dew in the morning the plants are looking quite good.
Starting with the smallest area of this monthly post – the hardy succulent trough has really filled out. When I planted it up at the beginning of the year it looked so empty but now it seems I under estimated how much and how quickly the plants would grow and no doubt I will have to edit it in the not too distant future.
The staging area got a bit of a tidy up. I mentioned a few weeks back that I was planting up my various perennial alpines into bigger pots and you can see the results here. You can also see the huge flower on the Aeonium tabuliforme which is quite wonderful; sadly the plant will die when the flower finishes.
The Patio Border is looking a lot better since I moved the Edgeworthia along from the end on the right – it seems more balanced out. The Kirengeshoma palamata is now beginning to go over but it has looked wonderful for about a month now. The border will now start to fade but come Spring it should have lots of spring bulbs appearing.
The Rose Border (formerly the Cottage Garden Border!) is settling in with its new planting. The Japanese Anemones have continued to flower since I planted them a few weeks back and some of the roses have buds appearing so I may get a second flush of flowers. I am pleased with how it is looking but it will now be a case of seeing how it comes through the winter and how the plants fill out. One day I will work out how to photograph the border to show it at its best.
On the other side of the path is the Big Border which I have added a number of asters too over the last month. I haven’t felt the border was right yet and I have decided that the two shrubs in it are just too large for the space and are dominating the planting. When I visited Old Court Nursery a few
weeks back I was very taken with the borders and they didn’t have any shrubs in. I have been following a principle of having a range of plants e.g. shrubs, perennials, bulbs in a border to add interest but I think that this border can do well without the shrubs. There is plenty of interest elsewhere in the garden in the spring and winter that the border doesn’t need to be interesting all the time. I want to improve my original plan to have the focus of the border on asters with some other late summer perennials. The asters are a little thin at the moment so making much of an impact but I think given another season they should start to look very good.
The new seating area and Hardy Exotic Border is great and has exceeded my expectations particularly as they were only created earlier this year. It will be interesting to see how the plants in the border come through the winter and how much they fill out given another year’s growth.
The original Woodland Border is looking a little faded now with plants beginning to fade for Autumn. However it looks so much better than last year and I am glad I added plants at the back to add height. I still need to edit the front and middle of the border now I know what is where so plants have the best chance to show of but this will be a job to do over the next month or so and in early spring.
Finally the enigma which is the former Bog Garden and which continues to perplex me. There is something not right with the border and I can’t work out what to do to make it zing. I am sure the penny will drop in the near future but it definitely needs something added or removed – it’s just been dull this year.
So that is my garden at the end of September and with Autumn upon us I am hoping to undertake a number of small projects over the next couple of months to get the garden ready for next year. I find writing this monthly post very helpful as it makes me look critically at the garden and analyse why different areas please or irritate me.
If you would like to join in with the monthly meme you are very welcome to do so. You can use it however you want there are no rules – you can show us around your garden, feature a particular area whatever you fancy. All I ask is that you include a link to this post in your post and you put a link to your post in the comment box below so I can find you.
It’s funny how you can trek all over the place, even all over the world, and yet it turns out that there is a wonderful gem of a garden right under your nose and you had no idea.
Perrycroft turned out to be such a garden today. Situated just over the Malvern Hills from me, nestled just below the ridge and with panoramic views of British Camp and out across Herefordshire towards the Black Mountains of Wales, the house and garden were stunning and I wasn’t alone in this opinion.
The house was the first commissioned the renown Arts and Craft’s architect, CFA Vosey received for a house. Vosey had started his career designing wallpaper and furniture and was very inspired by William Morris, Pugin, the Arts and Crafts Movement, Art Nouveau and railed against the over decorative approach of the Victorians.
“Never look at an ugly thing twice. It is fatally easy to get accustomed to corrupting influences.” (CFA Voysey)
The white walls and green woodwork are peculiar to his designs and I was completely transfixed by it. The green works so well with the lawn and surroundings and really ties the house into its location.
Adjacent to the house is the formal garden studded with topiary. I really liked the simple alternating approach of the blocks of sedum and grey foliage but more so that you look down into the square which gives you an interesting viewpoint and reminded me of the medieval gardens which had raised walkways around them.
The topiary continues down into the next part of the formal garden. You don’t really get a sense of the slope in the photograph above but they are quite steep and it is interesting that the owners haven’t been tempted to put in lots of horizontal terracing to tame the slope – in fact the box squares working down the slope actually emphasis the slope.
The chickens are demonstrating the steepness of the slope in the shadow of their topiary cushion. I have said many times before that I am not a huge fan of hedges and garden rooms mainly because I find them claustrophobia but this wasn’t the case at Perrycroft – there was a luxurious generosity of space in each area.
A sense of movement is achieved going down the slope with the repetition of key plants and colours as you can see with the asters and I like the way the verbena bonariensis is planted in front of the dark purple berberis hedge.
There is a wonderful exuberance in the planting which is as generous as the space. It is clear that a confident hand is behind this garden. The owner, Gillian Archer, is very much a hands on gardener and is ably assisted by two full-time gardeners hardly surprising when you consider there are 10 acres to tame and manage.
If ever there was an example of how wonderful a late summer border can look here it is. The borders positively glowed with colour.
As I have said there are 10 acres and aside from the formal gardens there is a woodland and also a wilder area with a chain of three ponds working their way down the slope, a couple of wildflower meadow type areas, an orchard and a vegetable area.
Throughout the garden are these very high back benches and I wonder if they are based on Voysey designs. My research tells me that he liked to design the house including the furnishings and I understand that he partly designed some of the garden are Perrycroft. It seems to me that the benches are reminiscent of his style.
The number of photographs I take of a garden are always a good indicator of whether I am enjoying it, am inspired by it or, as in this case, just bowled over. When Voysey died in 1941 amongst the various tributes to his contribution to design and architecture was one from Pevsner, a German born art historian who commented:
“…he never regarded himself as the great artist whose genius must be respected and accepted without querying. He built what was to be useful and enjoyable, that was all. Hence the undated perfection of the best of his work. … his [pattern] designs were so perfectly balanced between stylization and love of nature that the best of them have, to my mind, never been surpassed. Voysey believed in a humane, homely, honest life, in simplicity with domestic care and comfort, and in leisure judiciously and pleasurably spent amidst trees and flowers. … the essence of his work and his personality does not belong to our age but to an age gone for ever.”
Perrycroft opens under the National Garden Scheme